Thursday, March 25, 1999

Kauai Electric chooses
new site for power plant

By Anthony Sommer


LIHUE, Kauai -- Kauai Electric has abandoned plans to build a major new power plant near Kauai Community College in Puhi and is opting instead for a far less conspicuous site north of Lihue.

The utility announced the change at the same time it made public a final environmental impact statement which looked at the Puhi site, along with an industrial area adjacent to Lihue Airport and what is called the "Field 390 Site," north of Lihue.

The Kauai Planning Commission will have the final word on the power plant location, which Kauai Electric has said will be the site for all generating stations on the island for at least the next 50 years. Previously, all fossil-fueled power plants on Kauai have been at Port Allen.

The Puhi site was opposed strongly by the Kauai Water Department because it sits atop one of the island's major ground water sources.

"Despite all the mitigation measures we planned, it just wasn't going to pass muster with the Water Department," said Perry White of Planning Solutions, an Oahu consultant working for Kauai Electric.

The airport site had everything going for it, including existing heavy industrial zoning, but it is a flat, open location. Boiler buildings and stacks would be readily seen by tourists flying into the airport.

Although proponents of the airport site said an unused port facility at nearby Ahukini Landing would make fueling the plant easy, White said the area is too unprotected to use for fuel barges.

The "Field 390 Site" would be the least visible, the company decided, although the tops of large structures such as fuel storage tanks will be seen.

"It's more out of sight from residential areas and it wouldn't impact any ongoing agriculture," White said.

If the Planning Commission grants Kauai Electric all the needed permits, construction will begin next year on a 26.4-megawatt power plant, which would be the largest on the island.

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